Watch out! Are there hidden hazards in your documents?

Leah Guren, an American technical communicator living in Israel, presents a lunch-hour seminar, from 11 to 12:30 on December 8th, 2004, explaining hazards, warnings, and error messages. The seminar, sponsored by the Kachina New Mexico Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication is free, but please register in advance with Jonathan Price, at

Guren asks, “Do you know when and where you need to break out a hazard? What about the difference between Danger, Warning, and Caution? What kind of text and graphic labels work best? Are hazards the same in hardware and software documentation? Do color and placement influence user compliance? Do hazards change for localization projects? And do the users even notice hazards?”

If you have any of these questions, you’ll learn the theory, standards, and usability of hazards in one short session.

In an hour and a half, this seminar covers:

Unit 1: What Is a Hazard?

  • The Role of Hazards in Product Documentation
  • A Brief Look at What Doesn’t Work
  • The Golden Rule of Highlighting Hazards
  • The Usability of Hazards

Unit 2: The Legal Need for Hazards

  • Physical vs. Software
  • Legal Issues for Certification (FAA, FDA, etc.)
  • Standards (ANSI, ISO, etc.)
  • Danger, Warning, Caution: what do they mean legally?
  • Notes and Tips
  • International Issues

Unit 3: Key Elements of Hazards

  • Labels
  • Actions
  • The Do vs. Do Not Debate
  • Ramifications
  • Recovery
  • Level of Detail

Unit 3: Hazards in Print

  • Color
  • Fonts
  • Design and Layout

Unit 4: Hazards Online

  • Design and Layout
  • Animation and Sound
  • Linking to Online Resources

Unit 5: Error Messages

  • The Economic and Psychological Costs of Poor Error Messages
  • Providing Critical Information
  • Allowing User Recovery
  • Providing Extra Assistance
  • Linking to Tech Support or Knowledge Bases

Unit 6: Conclusions and New Theory


All material is presented with ample examples, so participants can learn to continually refine these skills.

Leah Guren entered the field of technical communication in 1980. Her experience as a writer, editor, technical publications manager, and consultant allowed her to develop a variety of specialized training programs in the field. Leah currently trains new writers through the course she developed for In Other WORDS, Israel’s leading technical communication company; she also conducts seminars and in-house training for technical communicators and engineers internationally. Her clients include many of the top high-tech companies in Israel.

Leah brings dry theory to life, illustrating rules with real-life examples and providing clear, practical guidelines that writers of all levels and experience can apply. A senior STC member, Leah is a popular speaker at STC and other international technical communication conferences.



TransCore, Amtech Technology Center
8600 Jefferson Street NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113

Directions to TransCore:

  1. From I-25 take the Alameda exit and go west on Alameda Blvd.
  2. Keep going west on Alameda Jefferson.
  3. Turn left onto Jefferson St NE.
  4. Turn left onto Wilshire Ave NE.
  5. Turn left into Transcore’s eastern parking lot.

Click here to view a Map.


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